This week’s trip is from the home-office over at IB. I met Katie a couple of weeks ago when I was in Los Angeles. She told me she’d always wanted to go to London, so I challenged her to figure it out using excess good credit. Here’s the scenario: Katie has a 725 credit score and can manage a spend of $2,000 per month of credit cards ($1,000 of which she’d put through Amazon payments). She doesn’t have a business and she doesn’t want one. She wants to get from LA to London and spend four nights in Old Blighty.
She had a tough time at first. She tried to get more than one personal Chase card. But in the end, our newbie figured out how to do it and only pay the tax.
ITINERARY OVERVIEW: Katie leaves Los Angeles on February 20 on US Airways and arrives in London the following day. She’s booked a round-trip ticket and flies out on February 25.
TOTAL TRIP VALUE: $2,892
HERE’S HOW SHE DOES IT:
February 20 – Round-Trip: Los Angeles – London
Method: Dividend Miles
- US Airways Chairman’s Preferred Dividend Miles Premier World MasterCard– 40,000 miles
- Katie receives 40,000 miles after first spend
Explanation: After buying a quick cup of Starbucks coffee, Katie makes her first purchase and collects 40,000 bonus miles. An off-peak awards ticket from the U.S. to London is 35,000 miles. the FTG link is for 30K miles but this link from the “Rick”s Top Travel Deals” tab, provides 40,000 miles. The Chairman’s Preferred card is 40,000 miles. Make sure you take the 40K bonus card.
As an alternate, if you can stand a higher minimum spend the Citi AA two browser trick will work as well, but it takes a higher minimum spend.
Out of Pocket Cost: Taxes
February 21 – Andaz Liverpool Street
Cost: $580.38 ($290.19 per night)
Method: Free Hyatt Nights
- Hyatt Credit Card from Chase– 2 Free Nights
- Katie receives 2 nights at a Hyatt after spending $1,000 within 3 months
Explanation: With the relatively low minimum spend of $1,000, Katie can get two free nights at a Hyatt. The Andaz Liverpool Street, which used to be the Great Eastern Hotel, is part of Hyatt. It’s a great hotel right next to Liverpool Street Station and within walking distance of the London’s east-end.
Out of Pocket Cost: $75 (annual fee)
February 23 – The Bentley London
Cost: $766 ($383 per night)
Method: Free Hilton Nights
- Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card– 2 Free Weekend Nights
- Katie receives 2 weekend nights at a Hyatt after spending $2,500 within 4 months
Explanation: Katie could spend the rest of her time in London at the Andaz and spend several hundred bucks out of pocket, or she could move to the Bentley London in Kensington in South London and experience a different part of the city for free. After spending $2,500 in four months, Katie gets two free weekend nights at a Hilton.
Out of Pocket Cost: $95 (annual fee)
Katie could have extended her trip by another day or two by adding in the Hilton Amex. Four days in London for a first trip is a solid visit. Not bad for a first timer heading across the pond!
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49